JUNIOR PHILATELISTS ON THE INTERNET
When it comes to storing and taking care of the stamps one collects, it is always important to remember that they are just like other valuable paper-related products. They must be handled with care---and stored under conditions that will not cause any deterioration. For instance, the Library of Congress is full of books, old documents, newspapers, etc. that were, over the years, handled and stored improperly. Many of these paper items are turning brittle, discoloring, and may not be handled even by the most careful person.
Thus its absolutely vital that every stamp you collect be taken care of very carefully. Those of us who collect stamps today are merely "custodians" of material that collectors decades from now will also want to collect. So whether youre maintaining a collection of early stamps (and covers, too) from the 19th century or purchasing some of the newest issues, the same careful consideration should be given to all of them.
HANDLING YOUR STAMPS AND COVERS
No matter how many times you wash your hands (and one should always do this before handling philatelic material), there is always a tiny amount of oily residue that adheres to ones skin---and which can migrate to any kind of paper item. When this oily residue gets onto a stamp or cover, it will stay there forever and, in the long run, promote the deterioration of the item.
STAMPS should be handled with the readily-available "stamp tongs" that come in many sizes and styles. By "styles," we mean the various kinds of tips on the end of the tongs. Some tips are shaped like tiny spades, while other tongs have tips that are shaped to a tiny point at the end. Pick a pair of tongs with which you will be comfortable. Tongs take a little while to get used to but after a while, every collector using them begins handling stamps like a pro! Remember, though, that the tongs with small points at the end can sometimes puncture the paper of a stamp. Be careful.
COVERS can, of course, also be handled with tongs, too. However, this may prove to be a little awkward so the accepted way to handle them is to hold them only by the outer edges.
We might also mention that, in lieu of the above, some individuals use very thin rubber gloves which can be purchased in any drug or grocery story. Whichever manner you choose to handle your stamps and covers, be sure to keep in mind the oily residue that resides on your hands at all times.
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